The Winner’s Profile is one of my favorite exercises in the Simplified Strategic Planning process. In it, you identify the key attributes that will make your company a clear winner in the long term.
The Winner’s Profile is a visionary conclusion to the assumptions portion of the planning process and a beginning of strategy formulation. I consider it the beginning of strategy formulation. Properly done, it is a good beginning to the directional thinking we do in the strategies part of the process.
Industry Scenario – identify the big changes in your industry
One of the key points in the process of creating the Winner’s Profile is the previous exercise, the Industry Scenario. In that exercise, you identify the big changes occurring in your industry over the longer term. These changes should not just be about your products or services. They should also be about massive societal changes such as technology, demographics, and large-scale economic change. By correctly divining these changes, we can identify factors which will likely influence who the winning companies will be.
There are challenges with making these predictions accurately, and we should remember that no one can predict everything
None the less, some large-scale changes are fairly easy to predict accurately. The fun part of the Industry Scenario exercise is thinking through how these foreseeable changes will change your industry. This can also be the scary part. Some of the big changes happening today will almost certainly disrupt the competitive landscape in which you currently operate. Time spent anticipating those changes will give you a better chance to create a truly forward-looking strategy. That can be a real key to long term success.
One of the reasons this exercise is so critical is the basic nature of strategically useful activities
Any activity that makes you more competitive, and builds your market share, can be strategically useful. To be truly useful, it can’t be something your competitors can easily and quickly copy. Because of this, strategically useful things tend to be expensive, time-consuming, or both.
Why does this make the Winner’s Profile important?
Quite simply, if it comes down to expensive, the competitor with the deepest wallet will win. If that’s you, great. If it’s not, you need another advantage. That’s where the long-term vision in this exercise comes in. If you start today, gently moving towards where you need to be, you may have a time advantage. Ultimately your competitors will wake up and realize you’re way ahead about something that is keenly important in your market. They will have little choice but to throw money at the issue. This creates an inherent advantage to companies that start moving in the right direction long before their competitors.
There are, of course, downsides to this approach
The most important is that you may end up being ahead moving towards a future that never happens. This is why I encourage my clients to grow in these directions gently. Do things that help learn about the changes before making expensive commitments to them. You don’t need to be ready for 2030 tomorrow, or even next year. Most importantly, if you start learning and growing in the right direction today, you’ll have an advantage over your competitors.
Do you use the Winner’s Profile exercise in your strategic planning? If you’d like to learn more about the Winner’s Profile exercise and more, consider holding a one-day workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning.
M. Dana Baldwin is Senior Strategist with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: email@example.com